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Way back in time before the onset of adulthood I enjoyed countless days heading into the hills of Yorkshire with nothing more than a squashed sandwich & youthful sense for adventure! Despite long past youthful and work commitments keeping me in the city, the sense of adventure and love for the outdoors never left me. After digging my boots out and returning to the hills I attended a number of courses to improve my hill knowledge and skill base, during one of these courses it was suggested I join the Mountain Leader Training scheme and was delighted go on to gain the MOUNTAIN LEADER Award in April 2012. As well as spending time on the hills and mountains of the UK I have also enjoyed trips to the Nepalese Himalaya, Swiss & French Alps, Mallorca’s Tramuntana, Andorran & French Pyrenees, Morocco’s High Atlas, Tanzania’s Mt Meru & Kilimanjaro, Argentinian & Chilean Patagonia and winter expeditions to Norway’s Hardangervidda. Since gaining the ML I have also gained the SINGLE PITCH AWARD, INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD and the WINTER MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD. I am now enjoying working in a freelance role whilst trying to get out climbing as much as possible.

Friday, 6 July 2012

The National 3 Peaks - Part II (Doing!)

  After discussions with the group the event was to take place over the dates of Sunday 1st & Monday 2nd July. I chose this date for a number of reasons -
  1, it was approaching a full moon which may provide some light if given clear skies.
  2, it was the nearest full moon to the summer solstice when the days are longest.
  3, the event would start on a Sunday as both the mountains and the roads around them would be less busy with traffic and other groups undertaking the challenge.

  At 09:30am on Sunday 1st July Ellie, Chrissy, Jodie & Richard along with drivers Chris & Malc picked me up near Leeds in a mini bus packed with boots, clothes, waterproofs, back packs, food and water and we set off to West Highlands and our first mountain Ben Nevis.
  N.B It should be noted that the 'National 3 Peaks' involves a lot of driving between the mountains with a journey of 6hrs+ from Ben Nevis to Scafell Pike and a journey of 5hrs+ onward to Snowdon. Add to this the journeys to the start and from the finish its no small undertaking and could be dangerous to try walk the route and drive between mountains.

  During the 7hr journey I took the opportunity to give a safety briefing which outlined the procedure if there was a need to contact Mountain Rescue and what information should they be provided with, I also showed them the Aid Kit and Emergency Shelter I carry.

 Ben Nevis -
 Arriving in 'Glen Nevis' around 16:30hrs we readied ourselves for the first mountain. Ben Nevis summit stands 1344m above sea level and the route we were taking from near the Glen Nevis Hotel had a starting height of just 18m above sea level - leaving a route that climbs 1326m in a distance of 6.3km.
On the way up the Mountain Track (also known as the Pony or Tourist Track)

Mountain Rescue are winched down to make their way to a rescue (not us!)
On the summit with the emergency shelter in the background.

  The route to the summit took us past the halfway 'Lochan Meall ant-Suidhe' (which isn't quite halfway but lifts the spirits of those who don't know!) and on the Zig-Zags where we looked in awe as Navy Sea King dropped winched down a Mountain Rescue team on their way to a rescue in one of the gulleys on the Northern face of the mountain.  As we left the Zig Zags we had to walk through patches of snow which still laid on the approach to the summit and onwards until the ruins of the former weather observatory appeared out of the mist.
  After a quick bite and a photo we turned to retrace our steps back down the mountain and returned back to the mini bus where it was then over to Chris and Malc to drive through the night to get us to 'Wasdale Head' where we would continue the challenge and walk 'Scafell Pike'.

Scafell Pike -
  Arriving in Wasdale around 04:45am in the pouring rain and mist we readied ourselves and donned the water proofs to walk to the summit of England's highest peak Scafell Pike at 978m. The route we took climbs a total of 918m over a distance of  4.35km following the course of Lingmell Gill.
The rain soaked, muddy track rising from Wasdale Head.

The path leading up the delightfully named 'Brown Tongue' and the constant rain is dampening our enthusiasm.
It's all getting a bit too much for Richard!!
Visibility drops to approx 20m as we make our way from 'Lingmell Col' to the rocky summit.
The wet summit of Scafell Pike.

   We set out from 'Wasdale Head' at approx 05:00am and headed towards the fast flowing 'Lingmell Gill' in the pouring rain with the promise of low cloud and mist as we gained height. Passing by 'Brown Tongue' we made our way up the stone steps towards 'Lingmell Col' through 'Hollow Stones' and so avoiding the very steep track that leads to the summit via 'Mickledore', progress was markedly slower than that on 'Ben Nevis' due to the slippery surfaces underfoot as well as the poor weather conditions, fatigue and the 'boil in the bag' effect of wearing full waterproofs!
   It was very pleasing to see everyone making a conscious effort to keep the group spirit up as this was always expected to be the lowest point of the challenge with it being the middle section, undertaken at a time usually spent in bed, after a rough few hours in the back of a mini bus and having walked the highest mountain in Britain just hours before.
  Again it was a fleeting pause on top taking only time enough for a photo before leaving the wet, windy, misty summit to make the return walk back to Wasdale Head, the mini bus & some very welcome dry clothes!!

Snowdon -
  Arriving at the 'Pen-y-pass' car park at around 16:00hrs, the rain having never ceased during the journey from 'Wasdale Head' (so I was informed!), we quickly set off along the 'Miners Track' which would see us gain 726m of height over a distance of 6.37km to our final summit.
The steadily rising 'Miners Track' hides its surprise until later!
Water cascades down the mountain side (Robin Hood Prince of Thieves wasn't filmed here!)
Ah! The steady rise is over as the track changes to a steep path leaving 'Glaslyn' behind.
That'll be the mist again then!
"Out of the mist they appeared..."
They've done it! The summit of Snowdon.

  Leaving the 'Pen-y-pass' car park we made our way along the steadily rising 'Miners Track' and it felt good to escape the confines of the mini bus (which was by now at bit of a mess full of wet clothes and empty drinks and food containers) to stretch the legs. As we followed the track over the causeway that divides 'Llyn-Llydaw' the rain began to fall harder and the winds increased and continued to do so as we made our way up to, and around 'Glaslyn'.
  After passing the disused mine works we left 'Glaslyn' behind and the group set off up into the mist which covered the now steeply rising path as streams of water poured down. Onward and upward (and upward!), whilst putting already very tired legs to the test, we made our way to the standing stone marking the point where the 'Miners Track' meets the 'Llanberis Path' which was a very welcome sight. A further 10mins or so and the Snowdon summit came into view.
  Congratulations, a photo and a quick bite to eat were followed by a safety briefing from myself (boo!), it was important that every body got back down safely and so needed to stay focused despite their fatigue and because of the poor weather conditions. The descent back to 'Pen-y-Pass' passed quickly with a sense of achievement and good banter, though some dubious jokes!

  Summary - in the first days of planning the event I made it clear that though it would be nice to complete the event with in 24hrs it was more important to complete the challenge safely and not put undue pressure on either the walkers or the drivers. As it was, it was the M6 on a Monday morning that put an end to any chance of completing within the 24hrs!
  I was delighted by the spirit shown by Ellie, Chrissy, Jodie & Richard through out the challenge especially when the weather was trying bring everyone's mood down.
 Very well done to all!!!


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